The current ban on medicinal marijuana dispensaries will remain in place in Kern County for the time being after the Kern County Board of Supervisors took no action on a proposal that could have led to the establishment of seven legal medicinal dispensaries throughout the county at a meeting Tuesday.
Citing the changing nature of the medicinal marijuana industry in the county, all supervisors – excluding Leticia Perez, who was absent – said they did not support the seven-dispensary plan, brought to the board by the Health and Social Services Subcommittee, which is comprised of Chairman Mike Maggard and Supervisor Mick Gleason as well as employees from the County Administrative Office.
The lack of action at Tuesday’s meeting could result in the closure of 31 Kern County medicinal dispensaries that are currently grandfathered into the law.
The licenses for those businesses are set expire Nov. 24.
If ballot initiatives fail, or the board does not amend the current ordinance, those businesses will be forced to close up shop.
At the meeting, numerous medicinal marijuana organizations showed up to state their case.
Their comments fell on some deaf ears.
“I don’t trust this industry,” Supervisor Mick Gleason said after public comments. “I’ve heard all of you talk. I don’t care for many of the things I hear. I don’t believe in the integrity of the system. I believe there are patients in need, and I believe marijuana can deliver a quality medicine, but I don’t believe that the industry is mature enough to deal with it without the fraud I see rampant in the industry.”
The proposal brought to the board would have allowed four of the seven shops to be located in the valley portion of Kern County, with the remaining three shops to be placed in eastern Kern.
The measure was meant to allow patients access to medical marijuana after the licenses for the 31 shops expire.
During public comments, numerous medicinal marijuana dispensary owners brought forward concerns that the seven-shop plan would create a de facto monopoly for a few businesses within the county.
Any businesses not lucky enough to obtain one of the seven licenses would have been unable to operate under the plan, with the seven licensed shops taking in all the profit.
The board has the option of reviewing the ban on medicinal marijuana facilities at a later date, but for the moment, the status quo will remain.
“Our concern is not who delivers or dispenses or makes available to the public medicinal marijuana, but that it be made available,” said Chairman Mike Maggard.
He said that given the option of delivery, as well as the possibility that cities within the county could legalize medicinal marijuana distribution, he did not support the seven-shop plan.
A ballot initiative for the City of Bakersfield will ask voters to lift the ban on medicinal marijuana dispensaries this November.
The cities of Arvin and California City are considering lifting the ban on adult use and medicinal marijuana dispensaries.
Multiple ballot initiatives are circulating the community to lift the county’s ban on medicinal marijuana dispensaries, with one initiative already being vetted by the county.
“I think that introduces a lot of things that we should consider before we move forward,” said Supervisor Zack Scrivner.
Those hoping for some kind of new direction for the future of medicinal marijuana in Kern County will just have to wait and see. For the moment, the ban remains.
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